By Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern
Just when Northwestern finally regained top-ranked 141-pound Ryan Lang after six weeks of injury, it lost seventh-ranked 197-pound Mike Tamillow.
Tamillow was held out of the lineup for Sunday’s dual meet against No. 22 Indiana because of an inflamed bursa sac. If needed, Tamillow might have wrestled, but by the time he was set to compete the dual was already lost for the No. 12 Wildcats.
Indiana won the dual 28-11, taking all but three matches. One of those three wins for the Cats came from Lang in his first action since he won at the Midlands Championships, held Dec. 29-30.
Despite the layoff, Lang felt no nerves about the match as he faced Scott Kelly, an opponent he described as “not on the higher end of the food chain.”
“Right before I wrestled, what was going through my head was ‘let’s go out and have fun,'” Lang said. “It’s been a while, so I’d like to take advantage of being back.
“I think I wrestled average at best. I went out and scored some points, but I mean, it’s the first time making weight and it was hard to be focused for a match – sometimes it’s hard to be aroused for certain matches, and I was struggling with that.”
The return of the undefeated junior is undoubtedly a lift for the Cats, who dropped to 1-5 in the Big Ten and 11-8 overall.
But unfortunately for NU, Lang’s long-awaited return coincided with Tamillow’s injury, leaving the team shorthanded once again.
“It sucks – we finally get our one big guy in, but when we get him in, we’ve got the other out,” said top-ranked 184-pound Jake Herbert. “So it’s a downer, but that didn’t really have any effect with the match; even with Mike in there we still would not have won.”
A handful of wrestlers lost close matches, including No. 20 125-pound Brandon Precin, who fell to No. 7 Angel Escobedo 4-2. Eric Metzler then lost to No. 20 Andrae Hernandez 7-3 at 133 pounds.
After Lang’s 9-4 win, Marty Gould lost to No. 18 Matt Coughlin in a come-from-behind 5-3 decision.
NU still has a chance to gain momentum going into the Big Ten and National tournaments, as NU coach Tim Cysewski noted, with matches against Purdue and Michigan at home this weekend.
The duals will be NU’s last before the Big Ten tournament March 3-4.
The fast-approaching tournaments give the Cats a new sense of urgency to regroup and wrestle with the potential that once had them ranked as high as eight with four individuals ranked in the top four of their weight classes.
“It’s coming down to crunch time,” Herbert said. “It’s make or break season.”
Reach Wade Askew at [email protected]